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Singapore media content gets boost to go global, on digital platforms

THE Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will strengthen its partnerships with international broadcasters and networks like HBO Asia and Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific (DNAP); global content marketing company, Brand New Media (BNM); local video entertainment platform, Viddsee; and leading tertiary institution in the arts, Lasalle, going forward.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and Ministry of Health (MOH), Chee Hong Tat, announced this at the opening of the Asia TV Forum & Market and ScreenSingapore, part of the annual Singapore Media Festival.

The partnerships will open up more opportunities for local media talent to upskill and create content for local and international audiences, as well as for digital platforms.

"Following a successful two-year partnership with HBO Asia which saw the involvement of local talent and production studios on key regional HBO Asia original drama productions like Halfworlds 2 and SeNT, IMDA will be renewing the partnership with HBO Asia for another two-and-a-half years," it said in a statement.

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"The partnership will feature greater involvement of local talent, who will take on key production roles in HBO Asia's upcoming pipeline of productions. The partnership will also upskill local talent in areas such as directing, scriptwriting, show-running and virtual reality (VR) production, through training programmes conducted by experts from HBO and their international partners."

The IMDA has also established a partnership with Viddsee to produce original public service content for Viddsee's platforms in collaboration with local filmmakers. This aims to make public service broadcast (PSB) content more accessible to a wider Singapore audience on different platforms. Five new original series will be commissioned and produced over a period of one year as part of this initiative. The first series is targeted to go live in February 2018.

Following a one-year partnership with DNAP, a series of VR titles by Singapore companies will also be commissioned for production. The first two titles to be commissioned are slated for release on Discovery's VR app in the first half of 2018.

The IMDA has also partnered BNM to conduct 10 content marketing workshops, with supporting partners Singapore Press Holdings and the Asia Content Marketing Association to enable participants to work on actual commercial briefs by seven brands, including Mead Johnson Nutrition and the Singapore Tourism Board.

To nurture a pool of scriptwriters, the IMDA has also partnered Lasalle on the first run of WritersLab, a scriptwriting programme, in early 2017. Participants were selected to participate in a scriptwriting workshop, and paired with a production house to submit a proposal and pitch their ideas. Three projects arising from the programme have been selected for production and will premiere on Toggle from January 2018. The IMDA is in discussions with Lasalle to run more editions of the programme, which could include a focus on scriptwriting for vernacular languages or immersive storytelling.

At the same event, Mr Chee also launched a new tripartite standard on the procurement of services from media freelancers - Singapore's first industry-specific tripartite standard that addresses the concerns of media freelancers.

To provide better support for media freelancers, it sets out industry best practices on written contracts, timely payment, dispute resolution and insurance so as to promote stronger working relationships between companies and media freelancers.

Based on MCI's Study on Freelancers in the Infocomm Media and Design Sectors in 2015, freelancers augment the media industry workforce by 50 per cent.

Starting from April 1, 2018, companies must adopt the standard in order to qualify for IMDA media grants and funding for PSB content.

Mediacorp will also adopt the standard and apply the same criteria in their commissioning process, as will HBO Asia and many other local production houses that have pledged the same.